Kori and Amanda Learn

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What the Veldt?! April 27, 2010

Filed under: Crossword,Geography,Uncategorized,Vocabulary — Amanda @ 2:40 PM

Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa, United States

Today’s crossword threw us for a little loop with the clue “Open grassland.”  We had 4 of the 5 letters (_ELDT) and, for the life of us, could not figure out the first letter of the word.  Luckily, we deduced that the answer to “End of a Shakespeare play” should be “ACT V,” thus giving us the V for veldt!  

Turns out that Veldt (also commonly spelled Veld) refers primarily (but not exclusively) to the wide open rural spaces of South Africa or southern Africa and in particular to certain flatter areas or districts covered in grass or low scrub. The word veld (velt in Middle High German, and feld in Old High German) is preserved also in the Afrikaans and Dutch, literally meaning ‘field’.  Veldt can also be likened to “prairie,” “outback,” or my personal favorite: “boondocks.” 

For our musically inclined readers, you might know of an English band called The Veldt.  

Any video gamers out there might recall in the video game Final Fantasy VI, the Veldt is a large flatland in which the characters can fight most previously encountered enemies.


An Argument for Naps April 23, 2010

Filed under: Brilliant things,Science — Amanda @ 9:35 AM
Tags: , ,

A new paper, published in the journal Cell Biology, suggests that napping after learning something new could help commit it to memory.  The study found people who dream about a new task perform it better on waking than those who do not sleep or do not dream.  

Volunteers were asked to learn the layout of a 3D computer maze so they could find their way within the virtual space several hours later.  Those allowed to take a nap and who also remembered dreaming of the task, found their way to a landmark quicker.

The researchers think the dreams are a sign that unconscious parts of the brain are working hard to process information about the task.  Dr Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School, one of the authors of the paper, said dreams may be a marker that the brain is working on the same problem at many levels.

Our conclusion: KoriandAmandalearns should take a nap after learning things at lunchtime.

Read the full article at BBC.com.


How to count penguins. April 21, 2010

Filed under: Animal Kingdom,Science — Kori Learns @ 10:46 AM

Five easy steps for counting emperor penguins:

1) Have your government develop a sophisticated satellite imaging system.  Convince them to do this by telling them they should really track potential nuclear weapon sites and other dangerous sorts of things.

2) Once the satellite is up and running, convince them that their fancy shmancy satellites can be used for other types of good, like scientific research.  Everyone loves science!

3) Sob story time.  Plead your case about how it’s really, really hard to try and count emperor penguins.  Explain how you’ve tried attaching radio transmitters, climbing on ladders above their huddling masses, and even attempted to use jets to track them from the air, but to no avail.  These suckers are hard to count.  Plus Antartica’s really cold so no one wants to go there in person.

4) Tell the super secret government spy people that they could easily solve the worlds penguin counting problems if they just took a few minutes out of their day to take satellite photos of emperor penguins in Antartica!

5) Offer to pay.

Please note that these five steps only work for counting emperor penguins in the wild.  If you just want to count any old group of penguins, there are easier ways.  One way would be to go to the New England Aquarium.  Or South Africa, which is way warmer than Antartica and has lots of penguins.

For a more detailed account of penguin counting please click here.


What river ends in Cairo? April 20, 2010

Filed under: Crossword,Geography — Kori Learns @ 2:10 PM

The Nile you say?  It seems simple doesn’t it.  Truth be told the Nile River ends in a large delta area that dumps into the Mediteranean Sea.  So what river ends in Cairo?

Well, it’s the (less) exotic Ohio River!  The Ohio River joins the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.  While the Ohio River does not have the distinction of being the longest river in the world, it is the largest tributary, in terms of volume, of the Mighty Mississippi.

If you think Cairo, Illinois is a strange town name, then you should check out China, Maine (which claims to be the “friendliest town in Maine” so maybe you really should make the trip).

UPDATED: Amanda learns is apparently unhappy with the promotion of Maine (the way life should be) or more importantly, the exclusion of Colorado (the “Highest State”).  If you’re looking for a strangely named Colorado locale, look no further than Dinosaur, Colorado!  Where there are really (long dead and fossilized) dinosaurs!

Ohio River info here!


Auk a Doodle Doo April 16, 2010

Filed under: Animal Kingdom — Amanda @ 3:20 PM

As KoriLearns and I were working on the Wall Street Journal crossword today, a curious clue popped up: “Puffin’s Cousin.”  The answer was only 3 letters, so it couldn’t be penguin.  What could it be??

Auks are birds of the family Alcidae in the order Charadriiformes. They are superficially similar to penguins due to their black-and-white colours, their upright posture and some of their habits.   However, auks have one big advantage over penguins don’t: the ability to fly (though, they are much better swimmers than flyers).


Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. April 15, 2010

Filed under: Animal Kingdom,Idiom,Vocabulary — Kori Learns @ 3:00 PM

This phrase or proverb is to remind you to be grateful for what you are given.  It comes from the idea that if you are given a horse as a gift, you should not open it’s mouth to examine it’s teeth to see how old it is [the phrase “long in the tooth” also comes from this indicator of a horse’s age].  Be grateful you got the horse in the first place.  An old horse is better than no horse at all.  And it’s much better than a bagel twist.

Some people in our office thought that this phrase was associated with the Trojan horse.  If you are given a large wooden horse instead of the real kind, feel free to look in its the mouth since it might have armed invaders inside.  That is not the same thing nor does it have any relation to the above phrase.  So look away!

By the way, this saying does not apply to bagel twists.  Even if you get a free bagel twist, run away and leave it in the dust.  No bagel twist is always better than a free bagel twist.

Read the whole explanation of “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” here!


Critical Corner – Dunkin’ Donuts Bagel Twists

Filed under: Criticism,Merchandise — Amanda @ 9:51 AM

A New Twist on a Bakery Favorite?   Try, the Bastard Son of a Bagel.

Dunkin’ Donuts, America’s all-day, every day stop for coffee and baked goods, has baked up a new way for bagel lovers to take a bite of their favorite snack. Dunkin’ Donuts today introduced new Bagel Twists, an innovative new “twist” on the beloved bakery item that makes it easier than ever to enjoy a bagel, any time of the day whether you’re on-the-go at work or play.

Dunkin’ Donuts Press Release April 5, 2010

So, a handheld bakery item with cheese in the middle wasn’t convenient enough for you?  You need to elongate and twist your bagel in order to eat it on the go now?

Personally, I think this is just a ploy for Dunkin’ Donuts to eliminate cream cheese.  Why do you insist on putting milk and sugar in my coffee for me (usually to excess), but you can’t spread my cream cheese on my bagel?

This “innovative new twist” is anything but that.  Stretched dough covered in cinnamon?  That’s a churro.

UPDATE:  We are not the only ones to complain. See additional review here!